The following is what happened when I had to watch Wild Hogs, the movie where four middle-aged movie stars start a motorcycle gang in the interest of wacky slapstick comedy. This one ain’t headed for the Criterion Collection, amigos.
Okay guys, here goes: WILD HOGS. Somebody teamed up Tim Allen, John Travolta, and Martin Lawrence, and somebody else is making me watch it.
In case you were worried I was doing this voluntarily, be reassured (and empathetic) — this is a MST3K, prisoner-on-the-shuttle scenario.
Movie opens with “Gimme Some Lovin” by the Spencer Davis Group. You heard this tune in The Blues Brothers, the one time it was used well, and as a result it’s appeared in every mediocre movie trailer since.
When you hear “Gimme Some Lovin”, it’s standard movie code for “get ready for a real good time!” It rarely works out that way.
Here, watch the first scene along with me, if you’re up to it — but before we do, let’s have a friendly wager: Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, and William H. Macy. Which one of these actors will be the first to fall off his motorcycle?
Got your pick? OK…
If you guessed it would be the one with the most respected acting career (and most likely the most gifted of the bunch), you were right: H. Macy is the one who eats street.
Humble prediction: I will get to see the other three fall off motorcycles at some point in this motion picture.
Would you like to guess each character’s career (before they give them up to become bikers, of course)?
First up: Tim Allen.
Plays a dentist.
Martin Lawrence: Aspiring writer. Don’t laugh.
Well, not until the part when he gets a side gig as a plumber and the first poo joke happens.
Macy’s job: Something with computers. It doesn’t matter what, right? He’s a nerd! LOL!
Travolta does something with business. He’s rich but losing it all. Good time for a mid-life crisis purchase.
(Or for Scientology!)
((Or for movies about Scientology?))
In the meantime, Macy just took his second motorcycle-based pratfall in less than seven minutes.
Starting to get the sense that Macy’s primary character description is “the clumsy one.” #whydoesthismovieneedmartinthen
In Wild Hogs, Tichina Arnold plays Martin Lawrence’s wife. In other words, this movie takes place in an alternate reality where Martin married Pam, not Gina.
It should come as little surprise that the soundtrack features “Slow Ride” by Foghat. #predictable
And also, of course, “Who Do You Love” — but the George Thorogood version, naturally, not the Bo Diddley.
Actually, I can save time and tell you right now that this movie has exactly the generic old-white-guy road-movie soundtrack you entirely expect it will.
First gay-panic joke in what will no doubt be a string: Macy rides on back of Travolta’s bike, inexplicably sniffing his neck.
Travolta’s response: “If you ever lay your head on my back again when you’re riding bitch, I’ll throw you into traffic.” #dothprotesttoomuch
Travolta referenced The Wild Bunch and my heart leapt for a second — “Can I watch it? Can I? Can I?” — then crashed back to reality.
Second gay-panic joke: Travolta wants to take a manly trip, “like in Deliverance”, and the other guys think he’s crazy, because butt sex.
Soon enough, all four guys gather around the campfire, where Macy moderates a debate over which of the other three has made the worst movies.
“I made The Santa Clause 3!”
“I made Bad Boys 2!”
“I made Battlefield Earth!”
“Shit, you win.”
Advantage (by a hairpiece): Travolta.
Gay-panic joke number three: Macy burns down the camping tent so they all have to share a sleeping bag. Macy nuzzles up to Travolta again.
Gay-panic joke #4: This dialogue: “My ass is sore. Woody rode us so hard yesterday. The human body wasn’t made to straddle something so big for so long.”
Gay-panic joke #5: A highway cop (John C. McGinley) finds the guys in the sleeping bag. Looks at first like he’s disgusted but — suprise — in fact he’s turned on.
(What does this movie have against talented character actors who use middle initials?)
((Oh, and against gay people?))
(((And why is Travolta’s character the ringleader in the majority of the anti-gay jokes, huh?)))
Question: Does Tarantino ever look at what Travolta has primarily been up to since the resurrection and think, “What have I done?!?”
Actually, shit: Since Pulp Fiction, Travolta’s got Face/Off, Get Shorty, and a tiny part in The Thin Red Line. That’s all that’s been inarguably worthwhile. All else has been simply tragic.
If you were hoping fora scene where the guys strip down and go skinny-dipping, great luck! And look, here comes another gay-panic joke…
#6: Travolta, last to strip: “Fine. I will get naked with my gay friends, and if any of them look at my junk, I will kill them.”
#7: When Travolta gets a look at Macy’s naked butt, he yells “Ew!” Meanwhile, even Martin’s able to take it in stride. #strange
#8 The guys are still naked when John C. McGinley returns, nude himself & ready to party. Way they react, you’d think he was Henry Lee Lucas.
When I started in on this movie, I figured it would be bad, and I was right, but I didn’t reckon on all the homophobia. #wildhogs
I’m getting depressed. How about a scene where the guys walk into a biker bar and the music stops?
Maybe even a good old-fashioned record scratch?
Oh, here’s one. Right on time! #predictable
If the Wild Hogs are a gang, they’re a gang (Martin aside) heavily inspired by the look of “Little Steven” Van Zandt.
Hey, now here come Ray Liotta, Kevin Durand, and M.C. Gainey, in a vain attempt to energize the movie. A fool’s errand, but at least a few cool actors made a little money.
Bon Jovi on the soundtrack. Awful. Inevitable. #whitepeoplemadethismovie
Now “Highway To Hell”. Which I will link to, as it is at least a good song, if forever overused.
Actually, I think AC/DC belongs to Iron Man now. You want to take from Iron Man without asking? He’s got a Hulk, you know.
Gay panic joke #9…
Liotta: “Those bikers got BALLS.”
Durand: “I’m gonna put ’em in my mouth and chew on ’em.”
Liotta: “You’re gonna put WHAT in your mouth?”
One thing I did not expect from this movie was a cowboy Kyle Gass singing Ginuwine:
FYI: KG returns again later on, to sing a Pussycat Dolls song and then this one, which I Googled and found to be amazing within or without context:
[Looks like all the Kyle Gass Wild Hogs clips are on YouTube. PLEASE stick to those. Stay on the path! Beware the moors!]
Kyle Gass is shouldering a lot of the comedic weight of this movie. It doesn’t seem fair, but it does make me miss Tenacious D.
Marisa Tomei is in this movie. The same year she was in Wild Hogs, she was in Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. It must be weird to be an actor.
If anyone’s still reading, let me please recommend Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead — an insanely underrated movie and Sidney Lumet’s last.
Anyway, let’s stop talking about great movies and get back to Wild Hogs. Where were we? Oh, right, the fair.
Basically, if you need to see Martin Lawrence squirt mustard at M.C. Gainey then kick him in the nuts, know that there is a movie to serve that need.
Peter Fonda showed up at the very end of Wild Hogs for a cameo. You can almost literally watch him pick up the paycheck/ watch the dreams of hippies die.
I’d like to write more about how symbolic casting can be misappropriated until it means nothing, but I’m running out of time and energy.
Say something nice about Wild Hogs, Jonny:
At least H. Macy, not Travolta, is the one to end up with Tomei. Then again, there are weird reasons for it.
Anything nice to say, in conclusion?
When I got today’s assignment, I thought it was OLD DOGS. So at least it wasn’t that. #wildhogs
Could I personally improve Wild Hogs?
Easily. Add three words… “ALBERT NOBBS in: WILD HOGS.”
Then there is the revelation, at story’s end, that Peter Fonda is Ray Liotta’s character’s father. That is certainly a biker movie I might watch.
In the end, what is there to say about Wild Hogs?
Well in the end, there is a Bon Jovi song.
So fuck that movie.
Find me on Twitter, where this kind of thing happens all the time: @jonnyabomb